ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – After a candidate forum in English last month, incumbent Governor Susana Martinez, R-NM, and Democratic challenger Gary King squared off in Spanish Monday. The debate, aired by Univision, featured Martinez speaking in Spanish with King using a Spanish translator.
The candidates were asked questions on five topics including the economy, minimum wage, immigration, health care and education. Some of the biggest squabbling came over education and minimum wage.
King criticized the Martinez administration’s education policy, saying its over-emphasis on standardized testing is demoralizing for students and has forced teachers to retire in large numbers.
Martinez fired back by pointing to a King comment that the amount of poverty in a district was the best predictor of performance on a standardized test.
On minimum wage, both candidates promised to back increases while casting doubt that the other one would.
Martinez pointed to King’s votes against raising the minimum wage in 1989 and 1990 as a state lawmaker. King has said those votes are well in the past and he is now strongly in favor of raising New Mexico’s minimum wage.
King pointed to Martinez’s veto last year of a bill that would’ve hiked the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour.
Martinez has said she supports a minimum wage hike as long as it keeps New Mexico competitive with neighboring states.